Essays

Transitions.

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When I was younger I hated the fall.  I also hated spring, both for the same reason:

They are transitional seasons.

My dislike for these seasons stemmed from the belief that they were in-between periods of weather, which meant they were occupying time before the real seasons happened, the extreme weather season.

Fall and Spring are not quite one or the other, they alternate hot and cold until they finally reach one steady temperature. And in my antsy young mind I wasn’t about to bother with the build up months between the dichotomy of winter and summer.

Because if you think about it, spring and fall are the same thing. They are roughly the same temperature happening after a certain period of prolonged weather. So depending on the weather you just finished forging, say a cold winter or a hot summer, the fall or spring will be welcomed as a nice cool down or a great warm up.  But they are the same weather. You just experience it differently because of the circumstances you just came out of.

And I resented that, that wishy-washy-ness, that “light-jacket” period of life (because If I have to carry a jacket around with me everywhere I better have to wear it!). I was more concerned with the final cut, the end result. Be hot or cold, weather, you can’t have it both ways!

I felt like this for a really long time.  Annoyed at the little buds that grew on the apricot tree in my backyard. Blossom already, I thought.

And then slowly, my life began to shift. I grew older and taller and no longer saw the world as black and white or hot and cold; and my allergy to transition seasons slowly faded away.

Because I started understanding the importance and need of in-between periods.

Like in Spring, when new things begin to grow

And in Fall, when the old makes way to prepare for the new.

Both seasons being critical to the outcome of the next.

Which is no different than in our own lives.

We have waiting season and periods between major life moments that can make us uncomfortable and antsy, when the old is making way for the new or the new is starting to grow. Though we might not notice it at the time.

If we could just get to the good stuff, we think

Skip all the build up, we think

How many times can you look back on your own life and pin-point a moment you resented while in the midst of it, only to look at it now and recognize yourself growing and learning through it? Many, I’m sure.

That’s how it always happens. We don’t see the whole picture. And the in-between seasons might be messy and chaotic, but they’re doing something:

They are the paint brushes being dipped in paint ready to brush a canvas

The string being threaded through the tiny needle eye, ready to start a strong stitch.

Each movement tedious and seemingly insignificant, but both the beginnings of something new and good. And necessary.

I hated the fall because it wasn’t quite winter and I hated the spring because it wasn’t quite summer. But these seasons matter, not only to the progress of nature, but to the souls well-being. It’s healthier to grow into something, than to collapse into it.

In these moments, we learn patience and contentment, to rely on God and not ourselves. And that even in a light jacket, we can raise our faces to the sky and enjoy the warmth it gives without worrying and vying to know what will happen next.

We learn to sit contently, wrapped in a scarf in the Fall sun.

Learning to walk at 80.

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I met a lady the other day in her 80’s who looked far from it.  By chance she wandered my way with her daughter and browsed around the shop. She was dressed simply and timeless; an elegant older lady shopping and pushing a walker. I thought nothing of it until she told me

It’s a weird thing learning to re-walk at 80. 


Firstly I laughed, because what an odd thing for someone to open a conversation with! But then I laughed because no you do not look 80 years old so what are you lying about here lady?

Neither, I learned.

While decorating her house for Christmas, high up on a ladder, she foolishly (her words) fell off from high above bruising her lower body rendering her shocked and paralyzed.


I had to crawl from here, she gestured to where we both stood, to the store exit to get the phone to call someone. And what’s more miraculous, she said wide eyed and softly is that the ladder caught itself on my chandelier. If it hadn’t got stuck there, I would have been toppled dead. 


…oh.


She laughed in hindsight. I half smiled, the story replaying in my head, wondering if I was allowed to laugh now too…? Do you laugh along with someone when they re-tell stories of almost death?

The doctors said it would be a miracle if I walked again.

And like miracles, mysterious and great- here she was, learning to walk again at 80 years old.

Don’t do stupid things! She warned taking her receipt.  And I smiled and told her I wouldn’t.

But how could I not?

How do you know when you are in the midst of doing something stupid until you’ve actually done it?

Until you’ve driven home without scraping your windshield of ice

or grabbed the hot pan full of food fresh from the oven with both bare hands

or leaned a little too far on the ladder you’ve leaned on time and time again.

You don’t, and that’s ok. It’s inevitable that something will happen which makes your eyes roll and throat groan in disbelief that

yet again

you did that thing you’d say you’d never do.

What matters is the outlook. The end result.

Does it defeat you or prop you back on your feet ready to continue? Sometimes we need a bit of a shakeup to get us going again, no matter the size of the tumble.

Whatever you do, stupidly or not, you can always keep going.

You can learn to walk again, even at 80.

How not getting a job got me a job.

story1-1-of-1It was my first interview found through a posting on the University student database. A potential summer job working at a garden center.  I was about to end first year confidently settled into university rhythms and I thought I was a shoe-in for this job for these reasons (in no particular order):

I am a person who has arms to move things and

my mother is a flower gardener.

I was in the food court grabbing Taco Bell one night after I’d applied when my dad called my phone to relay a message I’d missed; I had secured an interview on Campus for the following week.

I tried playing this fact off coolly to the crowd I was with, acting nonchalant and indifferent, but neither time nor space nor taco bel grande could shake the excitement of potentially getting my first job. All my friends were cool and employed and I felt weird living off loans and pocket money stretched over long periods of time. I was the friend who ordered a small black at Starbucks because; mmmm it tastes so much better than a Macchiato and for a 1/3 of the price!

The day arrived fatefully. I prepped my resume, a CV incase, and researched interview questions in preparation for my meeting.  I found my way down to the basement of Dillon Hall, a couple stairs into a small spread of rooms in a big room, and sat slightly nervy waiting to be called.  The walls were blueish grey and the counters were coloured dusty rose, like an old doctors office.

When the moment came to follow a tall blonde lady in all black into the interview office I notice 3 things:

One was that I, in all black, mirrored my interviewer to a tee (minus the hair) and an outsider could have mistaken us for a pair coming from a funeral.

Two was the grey blue colour of the walls in the small office, like the walls outside, which seemed bluer and greyer because

three the fluorescent lights above hummed yellow in the windowless room.

She proceeded as any interviewer would, asking questions and making small talk to fill gaps between paper work.  She asked simple questions about work ethic and threw in a couple of scenarios to work through. After the interview was finished I shook her hand and left, confident.  How could I have done better? I couldn’t have, I thought. I did the best!

But you know the end of this story. I didn’t get that job. I wasn’t ready for it. And as I know now, it wasn’t for me.

In hindsight, I recognize my faulty interview answers, and that my lack of business knowledge didn’t land me the job.  My answers sucked.  And I was bummed because I felt a bit defeated.

But now I acknowledge that this interview was a necessary stepping-stone in the right direction because it landed me my first full time part time. It didn’t give me what I wanted right away, but it did prepare me for where I was going.

It gave me the tools to know what to do next time.

If I had been employed at the garden centre I would have never bothered looking for another job or have accepted another job and I found my first real job in that period of waiting.

And I learned so many things there.  About working and life.

I recognize that failing the gardening interview was a big deal. I in no way diminish the sadness and the rejection of the first.

But I see the full picture, the completed puzzle. And for that I am thankful. My failure gave me perspective and editor notes to know what to do better for the future.

Often these periods of waiting serve a bigger purpose than just twiddling thumbs idly on our lap, it just take a bit of time to recognize their purpose.

And really, I am eternally grateful I didn’t get the job because working outdoors in the sweltering heat?

No thanks!